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The Power 100 2019

Since 2010 Worth has been tracking the most powerful men and women in global finance. Welcome to the culmination of an incredible decade.

20. Hu Xiaolian Chairman, the Export-Import Bank of China

2018 RANKING: 21

PATH TO POWER: The outspoken Hu attracted quite a bit of attention when, in a 2010 statement posted to the People’s Bank of China’s website, she quoted Milton Friedman: “Inflation is a disease, a dangerous and sometimes fatal disease, a disease that if not checked in time can destroy a society.” At a time when China was looking to become more interwoven with the global economy, her post signified that the thinking of China’s top economists was sometimes not so far from those in the rest of the world. One of the most powerful women in China, Hu holds a degree from the Graduate School of the People’s Bank of China and, since 2015, has managed the country’s Export-Import Bank, the world’s largest credit agency and a key part of China’s global strategy, funding projects throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America. 

POWER PLAY: This year Hu oversaw China’s Export-Import Bank as it swung into action, providing financing for exporters hit hard by the U.S.’s on-and-off trade war with China. The bank, meanwhile, continues to rise as a global creditor—so much so that some analysts worry that the debt it holds coupled with China’s lack of transparency could pose a threat to the global economy.

19. James Gorman CEO and Chairman, Morgan Stanley

2018 RANKING: 17

PATH TO POWER: Raised in Australia, Gorman earned a law degree at the University of Melbourne and an MBA at Columbia University. After graduation, he worked at McKinsey, where he was a senior partner, and later at Merrill Lynch. Gorman joined Morgan Stanley in 2006 and rose swiftly, becoming the firm’s copresident in 2007 and CEO in 2010. He became chairman of the board in 2012.

POWER PLAY: Gorman has been heralded for driving the bank’s revenue to a record $40 billion in 2018, with nearly half coming from the firm’s wealth management business. Recently, however, Gorman has been sounding warning bells on the global economy. Gorman’s been speaking out against Brexit, and on June 11 warned Reuters that U.S. policy with China could lead to a disastrous “full-on trade war.” Gorman has also been managing market expectations, warning that taxes and slower trading will likely mean the bank’s second-quarter results will be weaker than the first quarter’s.

18. Shinzō Abe Prime Minister of Japan

2018 RANKING: 22

PATH TO POWER: Abe, who comes from a Japanese political dynasty stretching back to the 19th century, studied government in Japan and at the University of Southern California and then worked in the Japanese steel industry. He entered government in 1982, serving in a variety of capacities, and was elected prime minister for the first time in 2006. He only served a year, though, as a bout of ulcerative colitis forced him to step down. He regained the premiership in 2012.

POWER PLAY: A landslide reelection in September 2018 has solidified Abe’s power in the world’s third-largest economy. On the international front, Abe has forged a cozy relationship with President Trump at a time when America’s traditional allies have struggled with the mercurial leader, but it’s come at a cost to his own dignity: Trump’s recent social visit to Japan, wrote Politico in May, was “a crescendo in the remarkable campaign of flattery and cajoling” waged by Abe. But not everything is rosy: Japan continues to carry debt roughly 250 times its GDP and Abe and his cabinet have begun mulling tax hikes and other measures to get it under control.

17. Robert Lighthizer U.S. Trade Representative

2018 RANKING: 18

PATH TO POWER:A graduate of Georgetown’s undergraduate program and its school of law, Lighthizer is a veteran of white-shoe firms Covington & Burling and Skadden Arps, where he spent three decades practicing trade law. He also served as deputy U.S. trade representative in the Reagan administration. 

POWER PLAY: Nothing if not self-confident, Lighthizer reportedly has a life-size portrait of himself in his home. But unlike many of his White House colleagues, Lighthizer keeps a low profile while at work. Lighthizer has Trump’s ear on trade and he plays a crucial role in the administration, particularly in trade policy toward China, where he is particularly hawkish. “Lighthizer’s is the economic philosophy most responsible for guiding the Trump administration, and he has ensured its influence for years, perhaps decades, to come,” Quinn Slobodian wrote in a 2018 Foreign Policy piece titled “You Live in Robert Lighthizer’s World Now.” According to Slobodian, Lighthizer is actually a free trader; he just believes in using every weapon available to him, including tariffs, to get there.

16. John Roberts Chief Justice, U.S. Supreme Court

2018 RANKING: 14

PATH TO POWER: Roberts grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., and earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. As a lawyer, he argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court before being appointed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals by George W. Bush in 2003 and then to the Supreme Court in 2005.

POWER PLAY: With the Supreme Court increasingly seen as nothing more than a highbrow political cage fight, Roberts has grown increasingly concerned about the legitimacy of his court, and with the loss of swing vote Anthony Kennedy and addition of the reliably conservative Brett Kavanaugh, his worry that everyday Americans might see the court as merely a political instrument has become more pronounced. Coincidentally or not, Roberts has on several recent decisions found himself playing the role of the court’s swing vote—and not always on the conservative side. On the last day of the most recent term, the Supreme Court handed down a decision blocking the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the census; Roberts sided with the liberals to form the five-vote majority. Had the administration succeeded, it might have dramatically reshaped political power in the U.S., as estimates predicted that a citizenship question would lead to 6 million fewer Hispanic Americans filling out the census, decreasing the count used to apportion political power and federal funding. Still, Roberts’ thinking seems tortured; he also wrote a majority 5-4 opinion holding that the court could not block partisan gerrymandering. That was the job of legislatures, Roberts argued, begging the question of why a legislative majority that got elected because of gerrymandering would do anything to change it.

15. Jamie Dimon CEO, JPMorgan Chase

2018 RANKING: 12

PATH TO POWER: Dimon, a native New Yorker, was an economics and psychology major at Tufts and received his MBA from Harvard. He started his career at American Express—where his father also worked—as an assistant to Sandy Weill. When the latter left to form what would become Citigroup in 1985, Dimon followed. He left Citi in 1998 and went on to run Bank One, which was acquired by JPMorgan Chase in 2004. Dimon became president and COO of the combined company and was named CEO in 2005 and president and chairman in 2006. He’s been in that position ever since.

POWER PLAY: Dimon, who runs the world’s most valuable bank by market capitalization, has largely been seen as a steady hand helming the ship through the financial crisis and beyond (he was named “America’s least-hated banker” by the New York Times Magazine in 2010); JPMorgan Chase posted record earnings in Q1 2019. And Dimon, who chairs the Business Roundtable consortium of CEOs, met with President Trump in June to discuss the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement and regularly makes the rounds on cable news to discuss current events. But he falls a few spots this year for somewhat losing his cool while testifying before Congress with other bank CEOs in April. Dimon floundered when freshman House Rep. Katie Porter asked how his company’s frontline employees could be expected to make ends meet in her state, California, while making only $16.50 per hour, repeatedly responding to her questions by saying, “I don’t know, I’d have to think about that.”

14. Steven Mnuchin U.S. Secretary of the Treasury

2018 RANKING: 16

PATH TO POWER: Former hedge fund manager Mnuchin graduated from Yale in 1985 and worked at Goldman Sachs for 17 years. After leaving the bank in 2002, he founded a series of hedge funds and, following the financial crisis, bought the foundering IndyMac; he turned it into OneWest Bank, a California-based operation that became known for its aggressive foreclosures. Mnuchin also had a short but significant stint in the film business, exec-producing films such as The Lego Ninjago Movie, Suicide Squad and The Legend of Tarzan. A friend of Donald Trump, Mnuchin became an early supporter and then Trump’s campaign finance chair, despite having previously been more a supporter of Democrats. Trump picked him for Treasury secretary in November 2016. 

POWER PLAY: Mnuchin is one of the critical players behind the administration’s most-touted victory: the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Meanwhile, he remains a key political ally of the president: When Democrats sought the president’s tax returns using a 1924 law, he frustrated their efforts, ordering the IRS not to hand them over and making good on his promise earlier in the year to “protect the president as we would any taxpayer.” Mnuchin also remains one of the few Trump political appointees to have made it this far without getting fired or quitting and with his reputation intact—although, in candor, he didn’t have an expansive reputation in financial or political circles to start with.

13. Michael Bloomberg Founder and CEO, Bloomberg

2018 RANKING: 07

PATH TO POWER: Bloomberg was an Eagle Scout in high school, and he’s spent most of his life in a state of preparedness for the challenges ahead. He studied electrical engineering at Johns Hopkins and earned an MBA from Harvard before entering the world of finance at Salomon Brothers. He had $10 million in stock when Salomon laid him off, and he used it to create the first Bloomberg terminal. These terminals would soon populate Wall Street and turn his eponymous company into an information and media powerhouse. Bloomberg was elected mayor of New York in 2001, a position he occupied until term-limited out in 2013 but which many New Yorkers probably wish he still held.

POWER PLAY: Back at the head of his company, Bloomberg has made himself one the world’s foremost philanthropists and leaders on causes such as gun control and climate change. In June, he committed $500 million to a drive to close every coal power plant in the United States by pressuring and cajoling local and state governments and avoiding the morass of Washington and nemesis Donald Trump entirely. Even beyond his issue-based initiatives, Bloomberg has become a sort of global statesman on behalf of reforming capitalism, a subject on which his credentials are unimpeachable. As he told the Harvard Business School in a May commencement address: “More and more Americans…are questioning whether capitalism is capable of creating a just society. Their faith in America and all that we represent is being shaken. If we do not act to restore it, the turmoil in our politics today will be only a prelude of what’s to come.” Few Americans are more worth listening to—or more listened to—than Bloomberg.

12. Narendra Modi Prime Minister of India

2018 RANKING: 11

PATH TO POWER: Modi grew up poor, helping his father sell tea at a train station, a story that would later become a key part of his political mythology. Modi took to politics early, rising within the ranks of the BJP political party through the 1980s and ’90s; in 2001 he became chief minister of Gujarat province. Modi won his first term as prime minister in 2014 and presides over a country that is set to become the world’s most populous by 2022. During his first term, he made good on promises to crack down on corruption and simplify the country’s tax system—welcome moves for foreign investors.

POWER PLAY: It was a far from sure thing that the BJP would prevail in this May’s elections. Dissatisfaction with the economy had some predicting that the opposition Congress Party would return to power after five years in the political wilderness. But when the votes were counted, BJP had not only won, but won decisively: The party secured an overwhelming majority in parliament, bolstered further by victories among its coalition parties, and Modi secured another five-year term as prime minister. In hindsight, analysts saw efforts by Modi’s allies to stoke religious tensions within the country as key to his victory, and worried that India would become increasingly defined as a Hindu country governed by the BJP’s brand of Hindu nationalism. Yet Modi does face some headwind as the Indian economy slows; GDP growth dropped from a torrid 6.6 percent in the last quarter of 2018 to 5.8 percent in the first quarter of 2019.

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11. Gavin Newsom Governor of California

2018 RANKING: 40

PATH TO POWER: The California native grew up in the Bay Area and went to Santa Clara University for undergrad. Postcollege, he got into the wine business and, with a group of investors, started a wine store that eventually grew into the PlumpJack Group, a collection of restaurants, wineries and hotels around the state and elsewhere. But in 1996 Newsom entered politics and never looked back: He was appointed to San Francisco’s parking and traffic commission and in 2003 was elected mayor of that city. In 2010, he became Jerry Brown’s running mate and served two terms as lieutenant governor of California. Following a successful gubernatorial run he was sworn in as the state’s 40th governor in January.

POWER PLAY: As the epicenter of the tech, wine, entertainment and other industries, California overtook the UK in 2018 to become the world’s fifth-largest economy, trailing only the U.S., China, Japan and Germany. As the head of that state, Newsom holds enormous power on the national and global stage. Since his inauguration Newsom has moved quickly, aided by the Democratic supermajority in both chambers of the state legislature. His $215 billion budget includes more affordable healthcare for the middle-class and undocumented populations—he’s said achieving universal healthcare is one of the biggest goals of his term. Newsom positions himself as the progressive alternative to President Trump, tackling his state’s issues of income inequality and homelessness head-on. Newsom is also doubling down on Brown’s ambitious plan to make the state carbon neutral by 2045, rolling out his plan early in his term. A big factor in reaching that goal will be his approach to affordable housing: Newsom wants new construction to sit near public transportation stops and downtowns, the best way to get drivers off the road and reduce tailpipe emissions. And finally, Newsom, who is friends with tech giants such as Elon Musk and Mark Benioff, is taking a cautious position on the question of whether any California-based tech firms are monopolies.

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